*PResented simultaneously at Cache Studio et à l'institut cultural du Mexique a Montréal- Espacio Mexico
The work of Oaxacan artist Demián Flores proposes an ingenious superimposition of popular images, national myths and pre-Hispanic symbols. Known for his permanent experimentation in the field of graphics and painting, his work converges traditional and experimental techniques such as engraving, stenciling, scratching, erasure, graffiti and transcultural recoding. An impure artist, his work is nourished by alliteration, post-production and the overflow of media. The result is a sort of palimpsest in which the modern and the pre-Hispanic re-signify and question each other. Expert in the handling of the press and printing techniques, his work is a permanent reflection on the matrix, the trace, repetition and appropriation. His work can be defined as a 'visual sampling'. In addition to being a prolific artist, Demián Flores is also an active promoter of social and community projects. Guided by the figure of his father -poet, journalist, politician and editor Miguel Flores Ramírez- Demián Flores has founded collectives, workshops and projects such as the Taller de Gráfica Actual (TAGA), the Laboratorio de Arte de Oaxaca, the CEACO (Clinics for the Specialization in Contemporary Art), La Cebada or the Binni Birí Collective.
The series Pinturas Plegables (2022-2023) consists of 11 acrylics on canvas without frame (145 x 125cm approximately). The format was designed to be folded to reach a dimension of 32 x 29cm and a thickness of 2cm, so that it can be sent by mail in an envelope. A solution found by the artist to deal with the restrictions of the pandemic. As if it were a postmodern codex, these fold-out paintings are populated with found images, erasures, appropriations and superimpositions that speak to us of the reality that Flores lives in a Mexico marked by insecurity, political crisis and the militarization of daily life. Along with deities taken from pre-Hispanic codices, in his universe of visual impurities cohabit wrestlers with plumes, urban gymnasts, children's stickers, commercial brand signs and faces taken from cartoons. Rescued from the badly printed pages of history books, comic books, magazines and advertisements, Demián Flores' recovered characters float on his canvases like wounded signs, exhausted and indifferent to our gaze.
In addition to the handling of color and visual palimpsest, two elements stand out in the series that at first seem formal, but if analyzed in detail, they actually turn out to be conceptual strategies. The first is the folds themselves. No matter how thin the layers of acrylic paint are, with the passage of time they will eventually give way and reflect the traces of the folds: the frictions and erasures created by the canvas itself when it is transported and unfolded. The fold has been conceived in this series as a continuity or extension of the canvas. Each time they are exhibited, these paintings will be marked by the 'mechanical patina' of the unfolding and circulation of their support. Secondly, the absence of a frame is striking. The decision not only serves the purpose of making them foldable and exhibitable as if they were advertisements or signs in street markets. The removal of the frame has another intrinsic purpose: to make us aware of the materiality and temporality of the painting. The lack of tension on the surface has been thought to counteract the cracking and fracturing of the paint that the permanent folding and unfolding of the work will bring about. From our point of view, these two elements work in dialectical opposition: while the folding attacks the pictorial materiality so that the surface speaks to us of the passage of time, the elimination of tension on the surface protects and protects it from its own will to be transported and exhibited. These are paintings that appropriate the creative packaging to become pragmatic, efficient and flexible. With this strategy, Demián Flores reflects on color as emotion, but also as matter.
With these Pinturas Plegables, Flores joins a tradition of artists interested in art as a game of folds and ambulatory unfolding. A tradition that, in Latin America, began with the Aeropostal Paintings of Chilean Eugenio Dittborn, who since the 1970s used the postal service to circumvent the censorship of the Chilean dictatorship and exhibit his work in different latitudes. Set in 2020, Damián Flores' Pinturas Plegables (Folding Paintings) have emerged from the need to circumvent the convulsive and complex reality of our times: the pandemic and the confinement experienced by artists and their works due to the health crisis. After having been exhibited at Art Division Gallery (Los Angeles) and Craig Krull Gallery (Santa Monica), the series arrives in Montreal to display in this city its colorful superimposition of myths and imaginaries about the fractured Mexican modernity.